Sydney chef Giovanni Pilu believes there are two ways of cooking pasta.
"One is doing it simply and really well, the other is to do it complicated and very bad," he says with a laugh.
"It's a bit like pizza. People put more things on top and more ingredients, whereas actually it should be very simple."
The Sardinia-born chef, whose Freshwater restaurant Pilu has consistently held two hats in the Good Food Guide since opening 15 years ago, is set to offer his insight to cooking pasta at this year's Hunter Culinary Association (HCA) Autumn Seasonal Lunch held at Bistro Molines in Mount View on March 10.
Pilu will present a masterclass in the art of authentic pasta-based cooking, focusing on three dishes, which will be followed by a three-course meal celebrating seasonal autumn produce prepared by the team at Bistro Molines.
"I know a lot of people are interested in learning about what you can do with pasta in a simple way," Pilu said.
"I talk about the difference between dry and fresh, the difference between the types of flours used, the cooking methods, and simple questions like, 'How much salt do you put in the water?'. The type of stuff people still aren't 100 per cent sure about when they cook pasta."
His ideal pasta dish consists of only a handful of ingredients.
"My perfect pasta dish is spaghetti bottarga and it sounds like a cliche because I'm from Sardinia and we make bottarga, which is dried and salted fish roe," Pilu said.
"It's basically olive oil, a little bit of garlic, a little bit of chilli, toss the pasta through the oil, and add bottarga at the end. It's literally three or four ingredients. Sometimes I like to put some little cherry tomatoes on top but that's as far as I will go with it. It's one of my favourite pasta dishes."
Pilu, who moved to Australia permanently from Sardinia in 1993, jumped on board with the event after dining at Bistro Molines last year.
As an Ambassador for TAFE NSW, Pilu is passionate about encouraging and mentoring young chefs in their hospitality careers.
"I'm a chef by trade who has been in the industry for over 30 years and I wouldn't have got to where I am today and be able to do what I do unless I had great chefs working for us," Pilu said.
"We have so many dedicated young chefs, so if there is anything I can do that is going to inspire young chefs and spread the message around about what we do, I'll do it."
The HCA Autumn Season Lunch has a long history of bringing top chefs to the table.
"Our events have always attracted some of Australia's finest chefs and food experts to the region, including Alessandro and Anna Pavoni, Josh Niland, Tetsuya Wakuda and Colin Fassnidge. This year is no different," HCA chairman Gus Maher said.
"HCA workshops are always aimed at educating apprentices, members and guests about the importance of fresh, seasonal produce and this is a perfect fit for what we aim to do."